Going global

Hannah Morley, CSP professional adviser, talks about her experience of working internationally and two CSP members talk about their experience in the UK. Read on to learn what is being done to support international recruits nationally

Going global

Moving to a new country, transporting all your belongings, your family and your future is a huge decision and for many will be the biggest of their lives. I should know, I’ve done it once and considered it twice! 

In 2013 I uprooted and emigrated to Canada. My route ahead in the UK was already planned, band 5 rotations under my belt, band 6 rotations ahead of me but I had an itch that needed scratching. 

I recognise this is a very privileged position to be in. Many people moving country are not doing it out of curiosity but out of necessity. Nevertheless, the amount of paper work, visa applications and notary publics you have to visit is similar in any situation when moving to a new country.  

I was lucky, I was registered to work before I left my home country, exams were already booked and I could start work straight away, my manager was even there at the airport to welcome us, even after a three hour delay in immigration! 

Not everyone’s journey is like this. Some elements are similar, the delays and the paperwork for sure, but many won’t be greeted by a warm host or have a job when they arrive. 

The CSP has been working towards improving support for internationally qualified physiotherapists through working with our partners in Health Education England and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Kim Tolley, HCPC professional liaison consultant, talks about the pilot education module for international physiotherapists which has been launched in conjunction with the CSP to highlight what internationally qualified physiotherapists can expect when entering the UK workforce.

‘It has been fantastic working with the CSP to develop materials for international registrants. I used to work at the General Medical Council, and have met thousands of overseas doctors who told me about the differences between the UK and their home countries. They spoke about the cultural and ethical differences, such as confidentiality, how to raise concerns, differences in the workings of the healthcare settings, hierarchies and working in multidisciplinary teams. I am sure that overseas physiotherapists must adapt to similar issues. 

‘International registrants bring with them a wealth of experience and expertise in clinical practice and make a massive contribution to UK healthcare. Our module covers some of these issues to support physiotherapists from overseas to settle into the UK system. I feel passionately that we need to support registrants who come from overseas, as they play a vital part in UK healthcare.’

Finally, we will be hosting a series of webinars and videos about supporting international recruits including a webinar on 28 June for employers on how to support internationally qualified physiotherapists to be successful in their new workplace.

Please join us in supporting internationally trained colleagues with a warm welcome and continued compassion as we all work together to achieve the best care for our patients. 

Best practice in supporting international recruits

These are some of the elements of the moving process that Cris Mulshaw, clinical lead for AHP international recruitment at Health Education England, and his team found were important to the success of any relocation process when staff are coming from abroad. Mulshaw and his team have found that limited welcome support for AHPs recruited internationally can result in a poor experience and difficulty for staff settling in. 

Some of the suggestions that have come out of this work include:

  • next steps guide about rights and responsibilities and how to seek employment.
  • offering international graduates, residing in the UK, band 4 posts until they attain HCPC registration.
  • modules about the health and social care system and working in the UK.
  • international preceptorship programmes run by employing organisations including supervision, access to a mentor and/or buddy and cultural adaption and awareness support.

Mulshaw explains that it is difficult to truly recognise the impact of those first six months on individuals and families. ‘We need to provide a range of support mechanisms adaptable to each individual recruit. By raising awareness and treating recruits with compassion, whilst approaching their wellbeing with curiosity and understanding, individuals will feel welcomed, included, and valued.’

Some of the common themes that were found to be barriers included:

  • Language barriers and cultural differences.
  • Financial challenges.
  • Understanding the complexities of the NHS.
  • Challenges with settling into their new personal circumstances (such as difficulties with accommodation or transport).
  • Family commitments.
  • Gaining adequate supervision and support; personally and professionally.

    Salil Parkar, AHP workforce fellow at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, says:

    Salil Parkar
    Salil Parkar

    Most often you find international applicants have all the knowledge and skills as a physiotherapist and have a diverse experience in clinical settings, but as a recruiting manager I would often find international candidates would score low on questions and scenarios related to the working knowledge of the NHS during interviews.

    As an international recruit I could relate to these. Hence, I would offer shadowing and interview preparation techniques as part of feedback to such international candidates. Many candidates have found these sessions beneficial for future interviews.

    I am glad that there is a big focus on improving the experience of our internationally trained staff. I was fortunate to have a support network to grow and develop in my career, from being a senior physio to a team lead, to becoming a therapy lead and now a AHP workforce fellow, but I am mindful not every international recruit has the same opportunity. I want to see my fellow professionals develop in the same way I did so I have volunteered to work with the CSP West Midlands team as part of peer-to-peer diversity network. I also support the CSP BAME network as an events officer.’

    Deep Kapoor, senior physio in the West Midlands, describes her experience of moving to the UK and how she is now

    Deep Kapoor
    Deep Kapoor, senior physio in the West Midlands

    supporting others:

    Migrating to a new country can be all together exciting and mind boggling depending on the support available to you, mine was rocking.

    Upon smoothly receiving my HCPC registration I was very excited.  I applied to various NHS jobs but was met with a chicken and egg situation of finding UK experience for applying for a job, and finding a job for UK experience. In that process I knocked on some doors and found a private employer who offered me a job. It was a eureka moment, and I grabbed it with both hands.

    The transition was difficult, from bland British food to all the different accents and getting used to English music, but that was the beginning of rising in a supportive environment. Gradually, nice patients helped me learn the surroundings, strangers turned into friends and work colleagues became mentors.

    Now, I visit schools, colleges and universities to encourage youngsters to choose physio as a profession and organise work experience for potential physios. I also work towards helping international physios arriving in this country. I show my support in many ways; from attending their wedding (as the only person who they know from their side), to travelling to London to support them with applications and inviting them to cultural programs to help them settle better in the community. This is my way of giving back to my profession and the world.’

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